March 9, 2015

Field Notes: A Tour of Brooklyn's CAMBA Gardens

CAMBA Garden

The current Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellows share their ideas, inspirations and photos from the field on our blog. Learn more about the Fellowship.

By Esteban Reichberg, Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow

Take a tour of CAMBA Gardens in 13 photos and see why this award-winning project is a national model for healthy, supportive, affordable housing. Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc., CAMBA Gardens Phase I is a $66.8 million, 209 unit, LEED Platinum, transit-oriented, new construction, affordable and supportive housing development located on the Kings County Hospital Center campus in Wingate, Brooklyn. This unique partnership between a public hospital, non-profit developer, and social service provider is an innovative use of underutilized public land. By co-locating housing and healthcare, CAMBA Gardens provides essential social services in addition to responding to New York City's urgent need for affordable housing. Since 100% occupancy, tenants have improved health outcomes, gained employment and internships, and enrolled in GED and educational programs.



Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

CAMBA Housing Ventures uses design excellence, sustainability and innovation to build affordable and supportive housing that changes commonly held negative associations. c's design embraces materials found in the surrounding urban fabric, including pre-patinated copper, precast stone edging, and blended red brick. Landscaping is designed to provide year-round greenery, and includes street trees as well as Zimbabwean Shona sculptures. 



Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

A welcoming entry landscape creates a warm introduction for tenants and guests as they arrive and interact with front desk security in the double-height lobby. The two-story curtain wall allows natural light for the green wall into the lobby and front desk vestibule, reducing energy loads. A suspended metal awning frames the entrance on each building. The digital intercom system increases safety and communication between tenants, guests and 24/7 security.

Front Desk


Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

The double-height lobby in each building features public art from local artist Ruggero Vanni that add beauty and cultural interest. The curved front desk is designed to promote interaction, increase sight lines and features 24/7 security guards who act in a doorman capacity, providing tenants with a safe entrance to their home. The interior second floor windows allow natural light into the upper corridor. Durable tile floors in common areas reduce maintenance demands and are reinforced aesthetically by a corresponding trim delineating the first and second floors.



Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

The lobby green wall provides a landscape transition from exterior to interior, helping to increase indoor air quality and providing desirable acoustical qualities. The open stairwell at the rear encourages stair use, reducing elevator use and electric loads. Double height windows at the rear extend from the lobby to the lower level, allowing additional natural light into the cellar. A variety of grouped seating helps to reduce tenant isolation by promoting social interaction and creating opportunities for conversation.

Community Room


Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

Multipurpose Rooms are available in both buildings for tenant groups, social service staff, and public meetings that include elected officials, community boards, and city agencies. CAMBA holds programs here on financial literacy, healthy living, job training, and family services. Designed for flexible use, the room includes a kitchenette, a unique coffered ceiling, and glass doors into the rear yard to add light and provide a view of the landscape. All CG common spaces feature Zimbabwean Shona sculpture and local artwork by Paul Catalanotto,

Computer Room


Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

Both CG buildings feature a computer room with internet access and printing capabilities. CAMBA's on-site staff works with tenants to develop resumes, complete job searches, and learn basic computer skills. Tenants also use the computer room to improve budgeting skills via web based tools and to pay bills online. Students also utilize computers for homework and school projects. The room features natural light and Shona sculpture.

Teaching Kitchen


Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

CAMBA Garden's tenant gardening program is currently being developed to pair with existing healthy living and cooking classes at the on-site teaching kitchen. The kitchen features ample space for instruction, stainless steel countertops, maple cabinets, oversized floor tiles, full-span backsplash, professional appliances, and durable built-in storage/shelving.

Social Service Offices


Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

This workspace is representative of private offices in the Social Service Suite of both buildings' lower levels. Each office is fully furnished and includes storage. Perimeter light wells allow sunlight into the cellar and all social service offices. Case managers utilize the office for private consultations. They can also access additional large and small conference rooms within the office suite. A waiting area, receptionist, copy/filing work space and a staff lounge with kitchenette provides additional staffing uses.



Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

Both buildings include a cellar level landscaped rear yard with children's play equipment and built-in wood seating. The yard is accessible from the lower level lobby, multipurpose room, and social service office suite. Both rear yards include a wood pergola with a full-length accent wall.



Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

This is a first floor, three-bedroom living room and dining area. Living and dining spaces include ceiling fans, shades, large energy-efficient windows, oak flooring, solid surface window sills and kitchen counters, energy efficient appliances and lighting, ample kitchen cabinetry and closets. CAMBA Housing Ventures furnishes all apartments occupied by tenants who are formerly homeless and exiting the shelter system with sofas, chairs, tables and storage beds.



Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

Large windows with integrated A/C louvers provide ample light in every apartment. Bedrooms include beds with drawers for additional storage, full closets, oak flooring, window shades and solid surface sills to promote long term maintenance.



Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

All apartment bathrooms are handicap accessible and include fully-tiled shower enclosures featuring a glass-tile accent wall. Surrounding walls also feature tile wainscoting. Water-conserving fixtures and energy-efficient lighting helped CG to secure a LEED Platinum rating and Enterprise Green Communities certification.

Roof Terrace


Fall 2014 photo by Vanni Archive Architectural Photography

Both buildings feature an accessible landscaped roof terrace with native plants and unique Zimbabwean Shona sculptures. Built-in terrace seating augments the tranquil outdoor environment to encourage tenants to occupy the deck. Wood planter boxes encase unsightly mechanical utilities. A two-story curtain wall with a metal sunshade allows controlled sunlight into the fifth and sixth floor corridors. Light pavers reduce solar gain and maintain cooler surface temperatures. The 86kW rooftop solar array reduces the building's energy load, powering approximately 45% of common areas.Follow these links to learn more about CAMBA and CAMBA Housing Ventures. Special thanks to Vanni Archive Architectural Photography for providing the images for this post.

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